3 December 2014

Increrasing Tempo of Chinese Submarine Activity in Pacific and Indian Oceans Alarming Countries in Region

December 3, 2014
China’s Sea Activity Puts Region On Edge

Tian Zhong, center, deputy commander of the Chinese Navy walks past Chinese navy sailors as they get ready for a welcoming ceremony for Russian naval vessels ahead of a joint naval drill, at a port in Shanghai, May 18, 2014. China Daily/Reuters

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India is speeding up a navy modernization program and leaning on its neighbors to curb Chinese submarine activity in the Indian Ocean, as nations in the region become increasingly jittery over Beijing’s growing undersea prowess.

Just months after a stand-off along the disputed border dividing India and China in the Himalayas, Chinese submarines have shown up in Sri Lanka, the island nation off India’s southern coast. China has also strengthened ties with the Maldives, the Indian Ocean archipelago.

China’s moves reflect its determination to beef up its presence in the Indian Ocean, through which four-fifths of its oil imports pass, and coincides with escalating tension in the disputed South China Sea, where Beijing’s naval superiority has rattled its neighbors.

"We should be worried the way we have run down our submarine fleet. But with China bearing down on us, the way it is on the Himalayas, the South China Sea and now the Indian Ocean, we should be even more worried," said Arun Prakash, former chief of the Indian navy.

"Fortunately, there are signs this government has woken up to the crisis," he said. "But it will take time to rebuild. We should hope that we don’t get into a face-off with the Chinese, that our diplomacy and alliances will keep things in check."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has ordered an accelerated tendering process to build six conventional diesel-electric submarines at an estimated cost of 500 billion rupees ($8.1 billion), in addition to six similar submarines that French firm DCNS is assembling in Mumbai port to replace a nearly 30-year-old fleet hit by a run of accidents.

The country’s first indigenously built nuclear submarine - loaded with nuclear-tipped missiles and headed for sea trials this month - joins the fleet in late 2016. In the meantime, India is in talks with Russia to lease a second nuclear-propelled submarine, navy officials told Reuters.

The government has already turned to industrial group Larsen & Toubro Ltd, which built the hull for the first submarine, to manufacture two more nuclear submarines, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Monitoring the situation in Chhattisgarh

December 3, 2014


Security personnel deployed in the Red Corridor are not dying in Maoist attacks. They are dying because the state does not care about them

“I can only think of a holiday.” The soldier of the Central Reserve Police Force’s 223 Battalion said this to one of his colleagues as they stepped out of their camp on December 1 in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district. The soldier died at 3 a.m. on Tuesday, 16 hours after getting injured in a Maoist ambush that killed 13 of his colleagues. The injured were brought back to the camp where they spent the night and the next morning struggling between life and death. The soldier who had holiday on his mind could not make it. The rest of the injured were evacuated the next afternoon, 24 hours after the ambush. “At least three more will die,” said a CRPF soldier to me. “Their organs are damaged and they just waited and waited, hoping to hear the sound of the chopper.”

It is safe to guess that most of the CRPF jawans who had been patrolling the same area of about 10-kilometre radius in the last 15 days had holiday on their mind. As a CRPF officer who is posted in the area, says, “Every morning, the soldier puts the coordinates in his GPS, and then he just wants to somehow be done with it.” The CRPF personnel who were caught in the ambush followed the same pattern every day. It is not clear what they were asked to achieve. The Maoist guerrillas had been waiting for them in an area where there are hillocks in a U-shape formation. They could only exit from the point they entered. The Maoists knew this and had set up their ambush accordingly.

After the kill, they took away a huge cache of weapons: 10 AK-47 rifles and 30 magazines, three Underbarrel Grenade Launchers and 30 grenade rounds, one Light Machine Gun and 300 rounds, four bulletproof jackets, GPS and night-vision devices, and a high-frequency VHF Manpack radio. They left nothing or no one of their own behind.

Chinese Takeaway: Modi’s Buddhism

Written by C Raja Mohan | Posted: December 3, 2014 

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi winds down an intensive phase of foreign policy activism, one surprising feature of his diplomacy has been the frequent evocation of Buddhism. In his outreach to leaders in the subcontinent and Asia, from Nepal to Japan and China to Myanmar, Modi has projected Buddhism as one of India’s bridges to these nations. The PM’s overt expression of his Hindu religiosity has been controversial, but not surprising.

But Buddhism?
Some have seen it as an effort to compete with China for leadership in Buddhist Asia. Others have viewed it as a fond hope of finding a spiritual connection to China. Some point to Modi’s personal interest in Buddhism and cite his commitment to restoring the rich Buddhist heritage of Gujarat when he was chief minister there.

It does not really matter if none of the above can explain Modi’s emphasis on Buddhism. What does matter is the fact that the PM has put Buddhism at the heart of India’s vigorous new diplomacy. The Buddha has long figured prominently in India’s international engagement. As the land from where Buddhism was born and spread around Eurasia, India did not have to work too hard to make it part of its cultural interaction with the rest of the world. One out of six tourists to India visits Bodh Gaya. Buddhism has long been an integral part of India’s relations with many countries in Asia. Buddhism brought a few problems as well. By hosting the Dalai Lama since 1959 amidst continuing restiveness in Tibet, India has created an enduring source of tension with China. 

Beijing Rivalry?
China’s active promotion of Buddhism in recent years has generated some alarm in New Delhi. China held the first World Buddhist Forum in 2006 at Hangzhou. It was launched by Xi Jinping — then the party secretary of the Zhejiang province and a rising star in the CPC. Beijing convened
the forum again in 2009 and 2012. The UPA government responded with a diplomatic initiative of its own. In 2011, India convened the first Global Buddhist Congregation. It joined hands with Myanmar in 2012 to convene a conference of Buddhist scholars in Yangon.

Kerry calls Pak Army a 'binding force' in khaki outreach

Dec 3, 2014

Kerry's comment came at the tail end of an unusually long visit to the US by General Raheel Sharif extending to over two weeks.

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State John Kerry has characterized the Pakistani army as a "truly binding force" in an apparent rapprochement with the country's influential and overbearing military, with which ties were soured over its suspected sheltering of Osama bin Laden. 

Kerry's comment, related by a Pakistani military spokesman rather than the State Department, came at the tail end of an unusually long visit to the US by General Raheel Sharif extending to over two weeks. "Secy Kerry acknowledged #Pak role in fighting terror &its sacrifices. Praised Pak Army's professionalism, termed it as truly binding force," tweeted spokesman Asim Bajwa, adding that while "Gen Raheel gave Pak perspective on regional security issues...Secy Kerry welcomed progress on improving #Pak Afghan relations as step to regional stability, assured full support in this regard." 

Kerry himself was circumspect about the engagement, merely noting that he had "productive mtg w/#Pakistan Chief of Army Raheel Sharif @StateDept on Twitter and posting a photo of him receiving Gen. Sharif - dressed in civvies - in the State Department. But his aides were more voluble. 

"The Secretary recognized the tremendous sacrifices the Pakistani military has made in its efforts to improve the security situation in Pakistan, and acknowledged Pakistan's commitment to counter all forms of terrorism and violent extremism," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said about the meeting. 

It was a different tune from statements in the weeks and months after the nailing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad when the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment came to be seen in a far more adversarial light - consecrated in the ongoing television serial Homeland - and came close to being called a terrorist entity. 

However, under the new Army Chief, Pakistan has been scrambling to make nice with the US, launching military action against extremist elements in the badlands on the Afghan border -- where it had avoided doing previously - preparatory to Sharif's US visit. 

General Sharif, who took over from his predecessor Ashfaq Kayani earlier this year, arrived in the US on November 16 and had multiple engagements across the country, courting his military counterparts, think-tanks, academia, and lawmakers, before wrapping up the visit with a meeting with Kerry, a long time Pakistan supporter who has lavished the country with aid despite its dubious efforts in fighting terrorism. 

In fact, for a change, it was the civilian dispensation in Islamabad that put the army chief in a spot while he was in the US, with the country's foreign policy advisor Sartaj Aziz saying in effect that he saw no reason for Pakistan to take on militants who were not attacking Pakistan itself. The remarks were reeled back by the Pakistan foreign office, even as Raheel Sharif told his interlocutors in Washington that he wanted to take "action against all terrorists without discrimination, (and) rid Pak of terrorism once for all," according to military spokesman Bajwa. 

The Modi Doctrine for the Indo-Pacific Maritime Region

By Patrick M. Cronin and Darshana M. Baruah
December 02, 2014

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at Fiji National University.

India’s PM has wasted no time pursuing a new maritime doctrine in the Indian Ocean and beyond. 

Only six months into his tenure, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is breathing new life into the concept of Indo-Pacific security. Indeed, it is not too early to describe the key elements of an emerging “Modi Doctrine” focused on the vigorous pursuit of political influence through greater maritime power. Acutely aware that India’s development is best advanced across the sea lanes of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the prime minister is embarking on a course of intensified engagement with other regional maritime powers.

If the Modi Doctrine persists, then about a quarter century of “looking East” is truly set to be followed by a long-term period of “acting East.” Heightened security cooperation with Japan, Australia, and the United States are three prime indicators of the new doctrine. Strengthening existing security ties with Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and deepening cooperation with islands in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean are other factors underpinning this doctrine.

Eighty-eight months ago, in August 2007, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe underscored the rising significance and linkages between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Abe told the Indian Parliament that the rising “confluence of the two seas” would draw together Asia’s two wealthiest democracies. Three months ago, while visiting Abe in Tokyo, Prime Minister Modi took steps to operationalize a “special strategic global partnership.” He talked of “vikas vaad” (peaceful development) and “vistar vaad” (expansionism) characteristics of nations in the 21st century, noting that nations engaging in vikas vaad lead to development. In perhaps a thinly veiled reference to China’s maritime coercion he pointed out that some countries are still stuck in the “18th century” mindset, engaging in “encroachments” of other’s territory.

Burgeoning Indian-Japanese security cooperation is one reason to believe that the Look East policy is genuinely now the Act East policy. The two countries are now fully committed to the joint production of a large, four-engine amphibious aircraft, the ShinMaywa US-2. This is critical departure for both countries. For Japan, the US-2 would mark the first major sale of military hardware overseas since the end of the Second World War. In fact, Japan is reportedly mulling over a new government-financing agency to ensure that money does not hold back the implementation of its recently relaxed export guidelines.

Meanwhile, for India, joint production will diversify and boost India’s defense industry, while also adding significant maritime domain awareness and response capacity. Up to 18 short-takeoff-and-landing planes will help patrol a 7,500-kilometer coastline and deliver troops to the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, the Nicobar Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, and the Lakshwadeep Islands off the southwest coast.

India’s spy agencies more toothless than ever

Written by Praveen Swami 
December 1, 2014
Source Link

In the spring of 2009, even as municipal crews in Mumbai were still sifting through the debris of 26/11, India’s newly-appointed home minister, P Chidambaram, was ushered into the digital heart of the United States’ war against terrorism, its super-secret National Counter-Terrorism Centre. He gazed intently, an aide recalls, at its giant video-walls, where information from across the world displayed in real time, and asked searching questions about the dozens of classified databases that feed them.

Later that year, Chidambaram promised a made-in-India NCTC would be up and running “by the end of 2010”- a third of the time it had taken the United States. “India cannot afford to wait 36 months”, he declaimed.

Indians waited that, and longer-and while they did, the foundations on which India’s intelligence services have been rotting. The Intelligence Bureau, highly-placed government sources said, is over 30% short of staff-particularly critical mid-level executive positions. For its part, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), tasked with securing Indian interests across the world, has desperate shortages of specialists in languages and the sciences-deficits that are running as high as 40% in critical departments.

Later this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to make his first appointment to lead the Intelligence Bureau. He is expected to choose from among Ashok Prasad, who helped build the organisation’s counter-terrorism data-hub, the Multi-Agency Centre, D P Sinha, a veteran of anti-terror operations, and Dineshwar Sharma, a quiet but highly respected analyst, who won his spurs when he volunteered to serve in Jammu and Kashmir in the early 1990s.

The Prime Minister will also have to find a leader to rebuild R&AW-devastated by internal feuds, staff shortages and technology deficits. He is expected to choose between Rajinder Khanna, the leader of R&AW’s counter-terrorism efforts in recent years, and Arvind Saxena, a veteran with long experience of Pakistan, the United States and organisational management.

Too few spies

Here is why India's armed forces urgently need a complete overhaul

1 December 2014 

As India’s 36th Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, more than any other minister in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, has the toughest job ahead of him. The challenges are multiple.

For one, the three Armed Forces are desperately short of modern equipment. For nearly a decade, an indecisive AK Antony as India’s longest defence minister, brought the already complex acquisition process to a virtual halt, thanks to his obsession with maintaining a squeaky clean image. Antony’s go-slow attitude has left all the three services grappling with severe shortage in critical areas.

Secondly, mistrust between the civilian bureaucracy and top military leadership has never been more pronounced as it was during Antony’s tenure as defence minister. The mutual suspicion has held back vital reforms in higher defence management of the country.

Third, changing socio-economic conditions have impacted the military as never before, resulting in a spate of suicides, fratricide and increasing instances of rebellion in the ranks, a worrying trend no doubt.

A look at major deficiencies across the three services is frightening. For instance, the Army’s light helicopters are more than 40 years old; it has not bought new artillery guns since 1987 (although the Parrikar-led Defence Acquisition Council has ordered purchase of fresh guns last week, their induction is still two years away).

The Indian Navy is short of conventional submarines since its fleet of diesel-powered submarines is down to a single digit. Submarines in production in Indian shipyards are at least four years behind schedule. And they are going to be without vital defence against enemy missiles for a while. The Indian Air Force is down to 33 squadrons of fighter jets against the required strength of 39 squadrons. Its eight-year-old plan to purchase 126 new combat jets is yet to come to fruition, although a contract negotiating committee is currently in the final stages of negotiations with French manufacturers Dassault Aviation and hoping to ink a mammoth 20 billion dollar deal soon. Even then, the first lot of 18 aircrafts will enter service only in 2017, and only if the contract is signed before the end of 2014. 

Forget Kissinger; India should use the Arthashastra for world domination

Dec 1, 2014

There has been no end of self-congratulation by well-meaning Indians over the fact that grey eminence Henry Kissinger talked about Chanakya in his latest book. Sadly, this shows how we still need some white guy to validate us.

I, on the other hand, feel a little queasy, because I have been dreading the day the West discovers the Arthashastra. Because I have been hoping that it was our little secret, which we could use to, well, become number 1: more on that shortly. And because it means the gems of Indian thought have been accessed by the West, while their fifth columnists in India itself ensured that Sanskrit is destroyed in its birthplace.

That last, of course, is behind the godawful ruckus made by the usual suspects over the MHRD's recent decision to restore Sanskrit to the Kendriya Vidyalaya curriculum. The venom with which these people attacked Sanskrit was a wonder to behold: and the word that leaped to mind was "crusade”. In action is the same cabal of leftists/religious fanatics who have conspired to denigrate Indian culture and civilization throughout the Nehruvian era.

The fact, though, is that despite the fact that Sanskrit is the liturgical language of Hindus (which is the primary reason the usual suspects are trying to kill it off), the body of non-religious writing in Sanskrit is enormous. In fact, it is likely that secular Sanskrit literature is greater in volume than that in any other classical literature, quite possibly as big as Greek and Latin put together.

Macaulay's demeaning claim that all of classical Sanskrit literature had less value than a schoolboy's shelf in Victorian Britain was pure self-deluding nonsense. If you take Sanskrit alone, and certainly if you take the manipravalam literatures (where there are words from another language – say Tamil or Malayalam – intermixed in), the amount of pure information is immense. That is the reason a number of schools and universities in the West have begun to teach Sanskrit (no, not love of India, sorry to disappoint).

Of all these diamonds in our backyard -- for instance, Aryabhatiya in astronomy, Ashtadhyayi in linguistics, Mudrarakshasa in drama – quite likely the most sober, ruthless and practical is Chanakya's Arthashastra. An exhaustive account of statecraft, this is astonishingly up to date even if you read it today, some 2500 years later. It stands to reason because human nature hasn't changed much in a couple of millennia, apparently: people like power, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. As a practical manual of how to run a nation, the text is incomparable.

A Solution for Afghanistan’s Opium Crisis?

By Sohrab Rahmaty
December 02, 2014

Efforts to eradicate the country’s opium production have failed. Time for a new solution. 

A recent report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC 2014) has found that illicit opium production in Afghanistan not only persists, but has actually increased, with more hectares of land being used to grow the crop. For nearly 14 years, the Afghan government, with the help of the international community and aid agencies, has worked to eradicate opium production entirely. This recent UNODC report has shown that not only have these efforts been unsuccessful, but that the eradication programs may have actually pushed farmers to increase their outputs.

The report showcases the negative trends of the Afghan opium industry, in which 13 years of consolidated effort to eradicate opium crops, with millions of dollars spent, have been a failure. Compared to the other difficulties the country faces, from an active insurgency to widespread corruption and nepotism, the opium problem was understood to be relatively manageable. Yet the government and international community have not been able to deal with it.

So what is the way forward then for this growing problem, that for some marks Afghanistan as a narco-state? The answer lies in transforming Afghanistan’s illicit opium production into a legal industry, as has been done in many states before that now produce opium for medical purposes.

In fact, the idea of transforming Afghan opium into a source for the opiates industry has been discussed in the past. It should now be given serious consideration. The negative externalities of the conflict in Afghanistan have allowed the illicit opium industry to thrive – regions with the highest concentration of production correlate with the most insecure provinces. The implications reach far beyond the borders of Afghanistan. Transforming production into a legal industry would represent a real and lasting policy solution that would not only take control of the issue, but could also serve as a source of much-needed revenue for the government.

Afghanistan, Myanmar, Mexico, and Columbia account for nearly all of opium’s underground production, with Afghanistan alone representing roughly 90 percent of output. Based on the UNODC 2014 report, the farm-gate value for cultivating the crop for Afghan farmers stands at $850 million, compared to $400 million in 2009 (UNODC 2010). Of course, given that the industry is valued at $60 billion a year, the vast majority of money is still being made outside the country.

The Taliban’s First Winter Offensive: Afghan Insurgents Expanding Their Attacks on Afghan Security Forces

Rod Nordland
November 29, 2014

For Afghans, the Fighting Now Knows No Season

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents pressed government forces on several fronts on Friday, killing at least eight Afghan soldiers in three separate episodes.

The attacks continued a sudden pattern of intense assaults almost every day, in another sign that the traditional fighting season in Afghanistan, where most fighting would ordinarily have ended by November, has been prolonged this year, and is still continuing at a high tempo.

Friday’s attacks came just a day after three serious attacks around the country,including two in Kabul.

Most American and NATO troops have ceased combat operations, and the Taliban have boasted that this has given them an increased ability to assault Afghan government forces. Air support and medical evacuation missions run by the American-led coalition on behalf of Afghan forces have also greatly decreased in recent months.

President Obama has authorized the use of air support and other combat support activities to help the Afghans in 2015, reversing an earlier plan to end all combat activity by American troops at the end of 2014. Afghan military leaders have welcomed the move, while complaining that even this year they had seen a major drop in air support of their troops.

Taliban attacks on Thursday and Friday on Camp Bastion, in southern Helmand Province, were symbolic as well as deadly. Bastion, a former British base and airfield, was turned over to the Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps this year as British and American troops pulled out.

The Taliban attack on Bastion began Thursday night and continued into Friday morning, according to Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the Helmand provincial governor. Mohammad Rasoul Zazai, a spokesman for the 215th Afghan National Army Corps, now headquartered at Bastion, said it was a complex attack involving 16 insurgents, some wearing foreign military uniforms. Several of the attackers got onto the base, he added.

While the Afghan military repulsed the attack, killing five insurgents, four government soldiers were killed and seven others wounded, Mr. Zazai said. In addition, Mr. Zwak said late Friday afternoon, “a purification operation is still underway to clear out the area.”

Mr. Zwak’s and Mr. Zazai’s comments were in contrast to confident remarks made late Thursday night by Lt. Gen. Haji Mahmood, the 215th Corps deputy commander, that the insurgents had been quickly subdued.

Afghan War Returns to Kabul

Sudarsan Raghavan

November 30, 2014

Taliban brings war to Afghan capital, threatening stability and endangering foreigners

KABUL — Taliban insurgents have intensified their attacks on this besieged capital with a flurry of brazen bombings and afternoon raids targeting foreigners and Afghans, bringing the war into this city in a way not seen in any other year since the radical Islamists were ousted from power. 

The latest assault occurred Saturday, when three militants clutching guns and grenades, including one who wore an explosives-packed vest, stormed a compound inhabited by foreigners in the middle-class Karte-e-Saay enclave. In a frenzy of explosions and gunfire, two foreigners were killed and seven were taken prisoner, said Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ayub Salangi. All of the attackers died in clashes with Afghan security forces, and the hostages were eventually freed. 

On Sunday, authorities raised the death toll to three foreigners — a South African aid worker and his two children — and an Afghan. And Kabul’s police chief, Gen. Mohammed Zahir, abruptly resigned amid the rising insecurity. 

The dramatic increase in violence in Kabul, arguably the most heavily defended city in the nation, indicates the resilience of the Taliban, despite pronouncements by Afghan, U.S. and NATO officials that the insurgency has been weakened. As the annual fighting season nears an end in rugged, increasingly snow-covered mountain areas, the capital has become the new focal point of the conflict. 

“The city is now the front line of the war,” wrote Esmatullah Kohsar, an Afghan journalist, in a tweet Saturday, noting that there had been 12 or 13 blasts in the past two weeks in Kabul. 

With the presence of thousands of foreign troops and Western-trained Afghan security forces in Kabul, it’s highly unlikely that the Taliban will recapture the city. But the attacks could destabilize a key American ally and pose additional threats to U.S. and NATO forces as they shut down bases and withdraw most troops by the end of the year. In 2015, a large number of the remaining foreign forces will be based in Kabul, including at least 1,000 American security personnel at the U.S.Embassy. 

Last week, a British citizen belonging to his embassy’s civilian security team was killed in a suicide bombing in east Kabul. 

‘A very scary situation’ 

During much of the 13-year war, this sprawling, oatmeal-colored city was insulated from the violence that gripped the core fighting regions in the country’s south and east. With a network of checkpoints and a heavy military presence, Kabul didn’t suffer the constant suicide attacks and car bombings that paralyzed the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, for years. 

Can China and the US Work Together on

By Kevin Peters
December 02, 2014

Recent events may be making Beijing more open to working with the U.S. on the fight against international terrorism. 

On November 12, U.S. President Barack Obama sat down with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to discuss joint cooperation on a range of international issues. Xi described the talks that took pace during Obama’s three day visit as “constructive” and outlined six priorities in building what he refers to as a “new type of great power relationship.” Among the six priorities discussed between the two leaders were joint efforts in counterterrorism.
Beijing had already announced prior to the APEC summit that it was aiming to work alongside the U.S. in its counterterrorism efforts. On October 31, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei told reporters at a press conference that, “China is willing to start cooperating with the international community in striking out against terrorism.” Driving this newfound willingness to engage with the U.S. on counterterrorism are recent events in China’s far western province Xinjiang.

In the past year alone, hundreds of people have been killed in China in violence linked to Uyghurs, a Muslim Turkic-speaking ethnic group native to Xinjiang. The highest profile attacks occurred at a train station in Kunming and at a vegetable market in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. While Uyghur advocacy groups cite heavy-handed repression as reasons for the violence, the scale of recent attacks, the manner in which they were carried out, and the fact that civilians have been targets suggest that China does indeed face a domestic terrorist threat.

Yet perceptions of terrorism in China have recently taken on an entirely new hue with the rapid emergence of the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS, or ISIL) in the Middle East. In July, IS released a map revealing itsintentions to control a significant part of Xinjiang within five years. Then, in September, China’s Middle Eastern envoy, Wu Sike announced that at least 100 Chinese citizens are training alongside IS in the Middle East. Although it is generally accepted that IS’s aspirations to control Xinjiang are highly unrealistic, the fact that Chinese citizens are training with the terrorist outfit has generated considerable concern about the security risk they might pose if they return to China.

For Sale: China’s Mach 3 Anti-Ship Missile

December 2, 2014

China’s latest anti-ship supersonic cruise missile may be coming to a theater near you soon.

As has seemingly become an almost annual tradition, China used Airshow China in Zhuhai last month to unveil a new anti-ship missile. The Chaoxun-1 (CX-1) is a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile built by a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), a major Chinese space and defense company. According to CASC, the CX-1 is a two-stage ASCM with a range of up to 280 km while carrying a 260-kilogram warhead. The missile also has a circular error probability of 20 meters, and high-altitude speeds of Mach 2.8-Mach 3.

Initially, CASC will produce two CX-1 variants: the ship-launched CX-1A and the ground-based road mobile CX-1B. Although the ASCM was designed primarily to target ships, it also reportedly has a second, land-attack function as well.

The CX-1’s presence at the international airshow strongly suggests that Beijing intends to export it. In addition, because its range is less than 300 kilometers and its payload is less than 500 kilograms, China would be able to export it without violating the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

However, even if China intends to export the CX-1, it still must find buyers for the missile. Pakistan has long been the primary recipient of Chinese arms, with Islamabad purchasing some 55 percent of all Chinese arms exports between 2008 and 2012. This has included anti-ship missiles. For example, Pakistan is the only foreign country that operates the C-602/YJ-62, a subsonic anti-ship missile that China unveiled at Airshow China in 2006.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have been the toast at the high tables from BRICS and ASEAN to G-20 and the East Asia Summit, but nearer home, in the neighbourhood, few are impressed by his 56-inch chest. The stark truth that India does not draw much water in the region was driven home unmistakably during the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu. 

The just-concluded SAARC Summit was dominated by India’s futile effort to check China’s influence in SAARC and over its member-nations. In this contest, China and its “all-weather friend” Pakistan not only got the better of India, but also won over others – such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives – to their case. 

Modi started off to much applause by inviting the SAARC heads of government for his swearing-in -- to make the point that immediate neighbours would be his priority in foreign policy. 

Since then he has journeyed far and wide – to Brazil for the BRICS summit, the US to meet President Barack Obama and attend the UN General Assembly, Myanmar for the ASEAN and East Asia Summit, to Australia for the G-20, and Fiji. In all these places, apart from reportedly stellar performances, he is also said to have clinched a range of bilateral agreements and wowed everyone, especially expatriate Indians, who saw him. 

Beginning his forays with Bhutan – again, to impress that neighbours are his top priority -- in six months, he has logged more foreign miles than Manmohan Singh did in a whole year. He has met every major head of government and attended every major regional and international grouping. He also found time to visit Nepal – the first prime ministerial visit since the 1990s. 

Thus, six months after assuming office, Prime Minister Modi’s accomplishments on the foreign front are best assessed by looking at how he has handled neighbours and the neighbourhood. A summary report would give him less than five points on a scale of 10. 

If his impact on SAARC and SAARC member-states are an accurate pointer of how he has fared in foreign affairs, Modi’s score is poor, even if India-Pakistan ties are left aside. 

He has had three interactions with the leadership of Bhutan and Nepal – at his swearing in, during bilateral visits and at the SAARC summit; and, with the others, at least two, besides meeting them on the sidelines at other occasions. 

Xi Jinping's Evolution of Chinese Grand Strategy

December 02, 2014

A more confident China will continue to seek regional and global leadership while firmly defending its core national interests.

Chinese leaders held their second work conference on foreign policy in 8 years — a rare occurrence by any measure (the previous one was held in 2006). What should one make of this important conference and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s aspeech therein? Different analysts (here, here, and here) have offered different interpretations, with most focusing on how to link Xi’s speech to China’s recent foreign policy behaviors. Such interpretations have merits, though they tend to miss the big picture in Xi’s speech, which is about China’s new grand strategy in the coming decades.

As Premier Li Keqiang said during the meeting, Xi’s speech has important guiding meaning for China’s foreign policy both presently and in the coming years. What this means is that the speech is meant to establish the guiding principles of Chinese foreign policy, very much like Deng Xiaoping’s “keeping a low profile” guiding principle in the early 1990s. The major difference, of course, is that Xi seems to have shifted away from the “keeping a low profile“ principle, though government rhetoric would suggest otherwise. What has been emphasized is the need to be active and creative in foreign affairs because without this it would be impossible to realize the Chinese dream and the great national rejuvenation which Xi has emphasized.

One new and important message from the speech is that now there is a clear strategic goal for China’s foreign policy. Unlike the U.S., China does not have the tradition of making its strategic goals known to the outside world. It used to be case that China’s foreign policy was primarily meant to serve China’s economic development, which was the most important goal above all else. Now things have changed. The new goals are the “two centenary goals” which are more specific and ambitious than just economic development. The contrast is particularly salient if one compares Xi’s speech this time with the 2006 speech on foreign affairs by Hu Jintao in which no strategic goal was mentioned.

Will China’s Internet Finally Open to the World?

By Lotus Yang Ruan
December 01, 2014

China claims its Internet will be multilateral, democratic, and transparent, but attacks on teachers suggest otherwise.

At the recent World Internet Conference held in Wuzhen City, Zhejiang Province, located in southern China, Lu Wei, China’s Chairman of State Internet Information Office and the Vice-Chairman of State Council Information Office, cheerfully told representatives from nearly 100 countries and regions that China had successfully realized the “3CtoCs” in global Internet development, that is, “come to China,” “come to the consumer,” and “come to consensus.” In reality, however, it is only consensus in accordance with the interests of the Chinese Communist Party that survives.

For a long time, Chinese liberal-minded intellectuals and university professors have dominated the public sphere, both online and offline, in China. But now, the Party is proactively pushing to win back its agenda-setting and opinion-molding roles among its people and in the broader international arena.

On November 14, the Liaoning Daily, the official newspaper of the Liaoning Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, published a front-page editorial titled “Teachers, Please Do Not Talk About China In This Way,” criticizing the content – and the way – that Chinese university professors teach.

“Some teachers just don’t take the ideological and political theory courses seriously. They inappropriately compare Mao Zedong to ancient emperors and dismiss the Party’s innovative theories. Some tout Western ideas of ‘separation of powers’ and think that China should take a Western development path,” wrote the newspaper.

According to the Liaoning Daily, its reporters “went to five universities in Shenyang, Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, and Guangzhou and audited almost 100 courses” over half a month and took notes totaling more than 130,000 words. Based on these notes, the reporters came up with the “three problems” outlined in its four-page open letter, accusing university professors of lacking a “sense of approval for theory,” “sense of approval for politics,” and “sense of approval for sentiments” when discussing China in class.


December 1, 2014 

Pentagon buildingWho should President Obama tap to lead the Pentagon?Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

The resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is being seen as a sign of President Obama’s desire to shake up his national security team and acknowledge that the country is back at war. Given the onslaught of global crises, what skills should Obama look for in a Pentagon chief?

Obama will need a Pentagon chief who can fight grinding counterinsurgency campaigns in two theaters under the financial pressures of a congressional sequester.

Lawrence J. Korb
Obama Is Looking for a Loyalist


A new secretary must be comfortable with the dominant role of this White House in the decision-making process, and must support the president despite opposition.

Janine Davidson
Someone Comfortable With Military and Civilians


Having a strong, competent professional at the helm in the Pentagon will make zero difference if Obama is not willing to consider uncomfortable advice.

Kiron Skinner
A Thoughtful Secretary With a Doctrine


Given Obama’s commitment to centralizing power, placing someone who knows how to generate ideas at the helm of the Pentagon is the most immediate challenge.

The President Needs a Secretary of War

John Nagl

John Nagl, a retired Army officer who served in the first two Iraq wars, is the headmaster of The Haverford School and the author of “Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice.”

NOVEMBER 30, 2014

Chuck Hagel is a good man. He turned down a college deferment offered by his draft board to serve as an enlisted man in Vietnam, where he was wounded. He recovered, enjoying a successful business career and two terms representing Nebraska in the U.S. Senate; John McCain still calls him “Sarge.”

Obama will need a Pentagon chief who can fight grinding counterinsurgency campaigns in two theaters under the financial pressures of a congressional sequester.

For all his accomplishments, however, Hagel was not a success as the first former enlisted man to lead the Defense Department. The problem was not so much who Hagel was as who he wasn’t. Brought on to manage a downsizing Pentagon and a diminishing combat role in Afghanistan, Hagel was never a member of President Obama’s close inner circle, nor a man intended to serve as secretary of war.

When the Islamic State took advantage of a premature American withdrawal from Iraq to seize territory the size of the state of Maryland, the president had an Iraq war of his very own to deal with. This disaster put the planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan very much in question. Sadly, the Pentagon management skills the president needs for the final two years of his administration now look much like what he needed during the first two: fighting grinding counterinsurgency campaigns in two theaters, this time under the financial pressures of a congressional sequester.

Fortunately, two veterans of those early years in the Obama Pentagon are available to serve. The physicist Ashton Carter ran the Pentagon’s weapons acquisitions and logistics programs before becoming Leon Panetta’s deputy secretary of defense, the chief management officer of the world’s biggest organization. John McHugh, a Republican congressman from New York, has been Obama’s only secretary of the Army, ably managing the nation’s largest armed service. Both have earned the president’s trust; either would serve ably and well in a role the president thought he no longer needed: secretary of war.

Obama Is Simply Looking for a Loyal Pentagon Chief

Lawrence J. Korb

Lawrence J. Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

NOVEMBER 30, 2014

Being secretary of defense is one of the most difficult and demanding jobs in the U.S. government. The secretary functions as the deputy commander in chief of U.S. armed forces, is a member of the National Security Council, develops a defense budget that shapes the military and accounts for 40 percent of the world’s military expenditures, and manages an organization of three million people.

A new secretary must be comfortable with the dominant role of this White House in the decision-making process.

The ideal candidate will have served in the military. Political and managerial experience are important, but in the short time the new secretary will be in office, he or she will have only limited ability to reshape the defense budget or reform the broken acquisition process. Finally, he or she must share the president’s worldview about how to deal with the national security threats to this country.

Ironically, Chuck Hagel had more of these attributes than any of his predecessors. He was a decorated Vietnam veteran who was wounded in combat, served two terms as a U.S. senator and was a successful manager in both the public and private sectors. On paper he was an ideal fit for the job. Hagel was let go because, like his immediate predecessors Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, he did not work well with those in Obama’s inner circle, who have taken increasing control over national security policy.

Hagel was let go not because the national security challenges the nation faces are very different from when he was confirmed less than two years ago, but because the president needed to demonstrate that he was taking action to shake up what many perceive as an incoherent national security strategy, especially toward the challenges of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

A new secretary must first and foremost be comfortable with the dominant role of the White House in the decision-making process, and must forcefully support the president’s approach to foreign policy challenges, both publicly and privately, despite opposition from the military, the Republicans and much of the foreign policy establishment. Obama is looking for a loyalist, not an iconoclast.

Obama Needs Someone in the Pentagon Comfortable With Military and Civilians

Janine Davidson

Janine Davidson, a senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, is a former U.S. Air Force officer and was deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans from 2009 to 2012.

IS may have a 'dirty bomb', says report

December 01, 2014 

The Islamic State terror group may have developed a nuclear device by using radioactive uranium stolen from Iraq's MosulUniversity after seizing control of the city last June, according to a British media report.

Militants boasted of the device on social media, with one even commenting on the destruction such a bomb would wreak in London, four months after the chemical went missing from MosulUniversity, Mirror newspaper reported.

One of the extremists making online threats to the West is British explosives expert Hamayun Tariq, who fled his home in the the United Kingdom for the Middle East in 2012.

Using the alias, Muslim-al-Britani, he tweeted, "O by the way, Islamic State does have a dirty bomb. We found some radioactive material from MosulUniversity.

He wrote, "We'll find out what dirty bombs are and what they do. We'll also discuss what might happen if one actually went off in a public area."

A dirty bomb is a speculative radiological weapon that combines radioactive material with conventional explosives. It is claimed the device includes uranium from a stash of 40 kilograms looted by the IS.

Iraq's United Nations Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim informed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the theft in a letter on July 8.

He wrote, "Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state."

Islamic State cell strikes Shiites in Saudi Arabia

Author Bruce Riedel
November 28, 2014

Saudi authorities have reported uncovering a large jihadist network working for the Islamic State (IS). The group was responsible for at least one sectarian attack on Saudi Shiites. At the same time, the kingdom is frustrated that the West is cooperating with Iran to fight IS in Iraq in an "unholy alliance" that Riyadh fears will ease Tehran's isolation.

Summary⎙ Print A deadly attack by an Islamic State cell on Saudi Shiites has upped the ante in the jihadists' threat to the Saudi royal family as the guardians of Islam's most holy sites.

The Saudi Interior Ministry reported Nov. 24 that three Saudi citizens and a Qatari linked to IS had carried out an attack on a Shiite village in the oil-rich Eastern province in early November. The attack killed nine Shiites and injured 13. The jihadist cell was tracked and all four members killed or arrested. At least two Saudi police officers died in the clashes involving multiple gunfights. Another 77 suspects with alleged links to the killers — including a Jordanian, a Turk and a Syrian — were arrested. The rest are Saudis. The Interior Ministry does not often defend Shiites' rights, but in this case, it had no choice given the IS connection.

The network had pledged loyalty to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and took its orders from IS in Iraq and Syria, communicating frequently. IS chose the target and timing for the operation in the Eastern province. The attack took place at a Shiite mosque on the holy day of Ashoura, the anniversary of the martyrdom of Muhammad's grandson Hussein. Baghdadi clearly wants to expand his war on the Shiites to the Saudi kingdom and probably other Gulf states as well. Bahrain is another likely target.

The Saudis have been fighting al-Qaeda cells for more than a decade, but this is the first threat from IS. This week, Saudi courts convicted three members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for conspiracy to attack Interior Ministry headquarters in Riyadh.

As many as 2,500 Saudis have reportedly gone to Syria and Iraq in the last four years to fight with Sunni extremist groups, primarily IS and Jabhat al-Nusra, with several hundred reported to have died in combat. Saudi authorities only this year belatedly banned travel abroad to join jihadist outfits. Controls and barriers have been strengthened on the Iraqi and Yemeni borders to try to prevent Saudi jihadists leaving or returning.

Foreign fighters flow to Syria

An estimated 15,000 militants from at least 80 nations are believed to have entered Syria to help overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad according the CIA and studies by ISCR and The Soufan Group. Many of these fighters are believed to have joined units that are now part of the Islamic State. Western officals are concerned about what these individuals may do upon returning to their native countries. 

International Center for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ISCR), The Soufan Group, CIA. Gene Thorp, Julie Tate and Swati Sharma. Published on October 11, 2014, 6:44 p.m.

More Graphics

The Great Oil Price Crash: RIP OPEC?

December 1, 2014 

The plunge in oil prices late last week, following an OPEC announcement that its members won’t cut their oil production now, has analysts scrambling to outdo each other with hyperbole. It is a “new era” for oil as OPEC has “thrown in the towel”. We are now in a “new world of oil” as the “sun sets on OPEC dominance”.

The oil price decline since June is no doubt big and consequential. And U.S. shale is indeed a major new force on the energy scene. But there is nothing particularly unusual about how OPEC acted last week. It would be wrong to conclude that last week’s news decisively signals an end to the last decade or so of OPEC behavior.

One need go no further back than the last big oil price plunge to see a similarly modest initial response from OPEC countries to a plunge in oil prices. After oil prices peaked at $145 per barrel in July 2008, they fell rapidly. On September 10, with the oil price at $96, OPEC declared a production cut, only for Saudi Arabia to announce within hours that it would ignore the agreement, rendering it meaningless. Indeed according to International Energy Agency (IEA) data, Kuwait, Angola, Iran, and Libya all expanded production in October of that year, while Saudi Arabia pared back output by mere fifty thousand barrels a day. Prices continued to fall. It took until an emergency meeting on October 25, with prices at $60, for OPEC to announce a real cut – and even that was not commensurate with the shortfall in global demand, leading prices to drop further. It was only in late December, as oil fell through the $40 mark, that OPEC countries finally cut production enough to put a floor on oil prices.

Did OPEC countries usher in a new era of complete inaction when, with oil trading at $75 in early October 2008, they failed to cut production and stop the fall? Or when, at $50, they let prices continue to decline? Of course not: later events showed otherwise.

It’s similarly premature to declare that sort of new era now: OPEC countries would be sticking to past behavior if they failed to cut production now but stepped in in a few weeks or months if prices fell considerably further.